Rick, that seems like it is worth tracking down. It is not in
print.google.com, but a public library may have a copy. I found no summary
of Bergonzi's Eliot text with a google search.
A propos of the Eliot and the primitive however, the article "Substitutes
for Religion in the Early Poetry of T.S. Eliot, by Jewel Spears Brooker (in
the book Placing T.S. Eliot) offers an interpretation of Prufrock as a blood
sacrifice in a ritual drained of Christian significance.
"Following Mallarme, Eliot used Christian ritual as an underlying strctural
metaphor in "Prufrock" and other early poems," Brooker writes. Mallarme
predicted that artists would liberate ritual from the bloody and barbarous
meal celebrated in the church by replacing it with a far more civilized
celebration of the death and rebirth of nature. "Mallarme's aesthetic
consists of a reformulation in which the forms and rituals of Catholicism
are emptied of Christian content and then appropriated for a new religion of
Brooker sees "the taking of a toast and tea" in Prufrock as a secular mass
in which Prufrock, the poet, replaces not only the priest but the body and
blood of Christ. When Christ is removed from the altar as Mallarme
suggested, the center of the ritual becomes the artist's self -- the god to
be eaten, divided, drunk and shared among the whisperers in Eliot's poem.
"But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald)
brought in upon a platter....."
Brooker sees the first line above as drawing a parallel between Prufrock
facing the meal in the drawing room and Jesus in Gethsemane preparing for
his sacrifice on the cross, and of course the head on the platter is St.
John the Baptist. Not only Mallarme, but Arnold's doctrine of art for art's
sake influenced Eliot's poem. The horror Prufrock feels is that of being
offered as a blood sacrifice offered not for spiritual salvation but
aesthetic enjoyment, attended by high priestesses of art.
Eliot and the primitive is a theme that can be traced in many permutations
throughout Eliot's work, a key to many doors. Diana
From: "Rickard A. Parker" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To: "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Eliot, Bergonzi, impersonality, the primitive
Date: Wed, 1 Nov 2006 15:58:33 -0500
During lunch I was doing a little reading in Bernard Bergonzi's
"T.S. Eliot". Chapter 3, section 1 has a fair bit material on topics
that have been under discussion on the list recently: Eliot's interest
in the primitive and Eliot and impersonality. Maybe not enough to
search out the book just for that but if you have a copy handy and the
topics interest you then you should check him out.
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